What the Hell?

I was watching this real tear-jerker video of military personnel coming home early from combat to surprise their families. Most of the scenes show fathers surprising their stunned children. In one scene, a 12 year old boy walks out of his class at school and to see his dad waiting in the hall for him. The boy runs and jumps high into the air, letting his dad catch him. It was a moment of unadulterated love . I was struck by the pure, unrehearsed love that occurred when the father and children met up. It was the way love was meant to be.

Upon seeing this, I thought about how God says his mercy endures forever. If this is the case, then the love that we share with God should be like the kids and dads in the video. I cannot fathom that a God who loves us eternally would keep hell hanging over our heads. There HAS to be something wrong with the translation. I’m still researching this issue, but I intend to get to the bottom of it.

Hell is the absence of a God; hell is the rejection of God, to adamantly choose cold, selfish pride over Love and Goodness. Hell is in never turning to the Father, despite His waiting with open arms, despite His calling and calling for us. He won’t force our love for Him; He won’t force us to use the good gift of our free will wisely, but He also won’t take away another good gift: our existence, itself.

Suppose the boy looked at his father, sneered, said “I never want to see you again” and marched out of the hall…

My children choose to go to the naughty corner.

I don’t want to punish them, I don’t want to be away from them especially if they are upset but I have to otherwise not only would my house be chaos but it would be unfair to any who behave themselves.

My you will need to reject quite a few outright declarations from Jesus Himself on this, not to mention extensive OT and NT admonishings from Prophets and Apostles alike.

It sounds like you are looking at God as a slave master that wields Hell like an executioner’s axe. You are right to reject that view. God is a gardener. He plants the good seed in people’s hearts. He sends the rain, he prunes, he nurtures.

A father returns from the war and the love between child and father is great. That’s wonderful and the child is only a child after all. Years later the child becomes a serial killer and tortures and kills other young kids. The father won’t accept the killer into his house. The killer doesn’t even care.

God does not turn away children from his house but we are not children forever. You take the analogy of us as “children” too far. The killer is still a “child” of his father but he’s not a kid.

I’m 57, and I have a sister who is 10 years older than I. Both of us were raised Roman Catholic. We haven’t spoken in about 20 years, so I can offer no details other than this pleasant anecdote:

She attended a high school called St. Angela Hall Academy in Brooklyn, New York (1906-1980), and was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph. Graduating classes were between only 50 and 75 girls. It was a very small school, with much personal interaction.

When I was a little girl, she came home from high school one day and announced to the family that their Priest - Fr. Joseph McGroarty - had told the students in lecture that as Catholics, they were required to believe in the existence of Hell, however, they were not required to believe that anyone ever went there.

Don’t know whether or not this is “true”, but it was quite an eye-opening concept “back in the day” when the nuns wore full habits, the hems of the students’ uniform jumpers hit the knee or below, and daily Confession was available to the girls (who called themselves “Angies”).

May all who read this be blessed.

Using your anecdote in an attempt to describe Hell, the kid, (soul) on seeing their father (God) outside the classroom door, decides to turn on their heel and run away to as far away from the father as possible.

That is what a soul decides to do when it places itself in Hell.

You would have to take free will out of the equation. And then we’d just be robots. No opportunity for love there.

Satan loves it when we question the existence of hell. I am positive he is standing there grinning.

Christ was talking about how God, has tried so many times, wanting, like a hen to have her chicks under her wings, but Jesus said we have rejected God.

How many times in your life have you made a romantic pitch to someone else and flopped? Usually the attempt satisfied you even if you did not obtain the desired result. Unfortunately, we have all seen too many stories in the news about a man who kills his ex-girlfriend since she would not reciprocate his love. Such stories always anger me. I usually envision the man being a pathetic, disgusting person.Something is wrong with the concept of using violence to force love.

Is the love God holds out to us any different from the love that the ex-boyfriend has offered? If we accept God’s love, all is well; if not, we will receive damnation beyond measure. Something is wrong with this picture.

I was just reading in John 5:25 this morning, where Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who will hear will live.” The scripture clearly is talking about people who are already dead. How can dead people hear the gospel? I thought you had to have your act together before you died? However, Jesus is saying the opposite. From what I gather, even after death, Jesus gives people a chance. I realize this is anathema to many contemporary Christians, but I did not write John 5:25. Maybe God is much, much, much more forgiving than we realize. I would not be surprised if, after death, all were given a chance, and only a very few who truly hated Jesus and wanted nothing to do with him went to hell.

Going back to what I said. If God said, “I love you so much, here’s my son. But, if you don’t reciprocate you will be DAMNED!” That does not sound like love in any form. I think Satan has distorted this message. Remember, God said in Psalm 100:5 that his mercy “endures forever.” How can it endure forever if he sends people to hell forever? If that’s the case, then his mercy DOESN’T endure forever.

Going back to the child in the video. If hell were true, it would be like the kid refusing to run up the father. The father then chasing the son, dipping him in gas, and lighting him on fire. There’s no difference. A loving parent would NEVER do that, no matter how much the child rejected him. Yet, that is precisely what people say God will do. I don’t believe it.

No, it is exactly the opposite of what you say.

God offers us His love (Heaven), but if we say no, He allows us to separate ourselves from Him (Hell).

If God forced everyone to go to Heaven, He would be like the scorned suitor who kidnaps his love interest and locks her in the basement, trusting she will “grow to love him”.

God offers His love freely, and we can accept or reject it freely. He will not force us to love Him.

God Bless

No, The father doesn’t have to do anything. The chief torment of hell is simply the absence of the father-and he ultimately allows the choice to be ours because that’s what free will is all about-between God or no God, life or death, good or evil, heaven or hell.

You cannot rationalize the mind of God, we are to know, love and serve Him.
He loved us so much that His only Begotten Son suffered and died a horrible death that through Him we may gain eternity. When you reject this suffering and refuse to take up the cross and follow Him you condemn yourself to the fires of hell. You made this choice and condemned yourself.

Lord Jesus Christ have mercy.

Actually, God designed us to be with him. We CAN’T be happy without him! That’s the whole point.

We’re thinking God is like some kind of jilted lover? God loves us more than anybody else ever could. He, literally, became our food and drink! He paid for our debts. Even after all he’s given us, we still think HE’S the problem!

It would be sort of like someone who loved you enough to give you a kidney, except he didn’t stop at the kidney! Then, we people even now prefer to go with Satan! Gosh!

We think we can’t be happy with God, but the alternative is Satan. In the moment we reject God, Satan will seize that soul. We have been warned countless times but have refused to listen.

Have you read the Bible and seen how many chances and second chances and hundredth and thousandth chances he’s given us as a people?

Look about. We deserve destruction! If God were to say he wanted to destroy us, myself included, I wouldn’t be able to blame him! I’d have to just say, “Amen!”

He’s given us commandments…miracles…paradise. We are such an ungrateful, rebellious, selfish, people!

We’re never happy. He’s given us his body and blood, and we still try to say he’s a tyrant. What more would we expect him to do or give?



I was also unable to understand for a long time how a loving God could let anyone go to hell. Understanding of this came from understanding sin and hell better.
To sin is to choose our own desires over God’s commands. When we sin we choose to not love God, and move ourselves further away from Him. Hell is the place God let’s people go if they are still choosing sin over Him when they die. Hell is terrible because it is a place without God’s love.
To match this with your analogy of a human father and son would be difficult, mostly because we are not simple children, but rational adults and young adults who are capable of making decisions about our spiritual lives. God respects our choice to leave him if we want to. He does not force anyone to love him.
A good analogy may be one where a father let’s his 25 year old alcholic son move out and sleep in gutters rather than stay in his home and quit drinking. The father does not force his son out, but he isn’t going to tie him up and keep him in the basement either.
I would suggest asking this question in the “ask an apologist” section to get a better answer. I don’t claim to have any facts here, just my (possibly poorly formed) understanding.

Hi RenewedFaith:

There is no requirement or expectation for a person to be comfortable with the idea of Hell, or to grasp its magnitude. I like how St. Ignatius described it in one his sermons, where he met a lady who said “I cannot conceive of such a thing!”. He went on to say “Is this reaction not what we ought to expect?” Hell, as with Heaven, is a supernatural thing, and so it ought to be expected that it is not something to be fully grasped. Can we grasp Heaven? We cannot, and so neither can we grasp Hell. God holds no such expectation from you; his only expectation on this is that you trust him when he tells you things, because everything he tells us, he tells us for our benefit.

In this world there are trillions of lifeforms, and most of them are too insignificant for us to even see with our naked eyes. But among all that life, there is an infinitesimal slice which has been imbued with the image of God. You must remind yourself that you, your family, your friends, and the strangers you meet in everyday life, are all gods. When you buy a drink in a convenience store, the clerk that rings you out is a god that will exist forever; one day they will be either a god of darkness or of light, but they will have their being forever. Our inescapable responsibility is that we will answer for what we do. A girl getting hit on by a guy has no obligation to indulge in his offer. A friend has no obligation to accept an invitation to dinner from another friend. As fellow people, we have no inherent sovereignty over one another. But our Creator is the unapproachable Light that reigns sovereign over everything, and when He establishes the world and reveals the eternal Law, it is not something given to us per request, nor should it be. You cannot use any analogy to properly compare our Creator to His creation because it is a relationship that is entirely unique from any other. What must be known is when a person chooses to rebel against their King without repentance, it was the person that made that choice, and not only did they make that choice, but, having the opportunity to receive royal pardon, they continued rebellion anyway.

If you do not want to believe in Hell, eventually you will succeed. But consider that carefully, because you are pitting your intuition against millenniums of revealed scripture and saints. These people were all every bit as human as you are, with all the limitations included. What, perhaps, did they understand that maybe you don’t?

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